The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has advised Nigerians to look beyond oil to secure economic prosperity for the country.
Mr. Ekweremadu, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, said the days of oil as super foreign exchange earner for the nation were numbered or probably over.
Mr. Ekweremadu gave the advice at the one-year anniversary celebration of the Brickhall School, Abuja, founded by former Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Joy Emodi.
The deputy senate president expressed concern that not so much attention was given to education as much as oil, which would soon become valueless.
He said the way to go for sustainable growth of the country was education for both the young and old.
“Our economy is in the throes of pain today because we thought the oil windfall would last forever,” he said.
“Even, while it lasted, we dismantled all the necessary structures, such as fiscal federalism, that would have encouraged competitive development and massive investment in human capital.
“Without prejudice to the place of petroleum resources in our national life, we must face the reality that the days of oil as super earner of foreign exchange are numbered, if not over.
“Those who still look up to petroleum resources for the revival of Nigeria’s weather-beaten economy live in the past and are only building castles in the air.
“Prosperous global economies are knowledge-driven and the future only belongs to those who equip their citizens with quality education right from birth.
“This is a major reason most African nations, including Nigeria, are abjectly poor despite their rich oil and mineral resources.
“Meanwhile, many of their contemporaries, such as South Korea, with very little or no mineral resources, are among the world’s leading economies.
“We must look beyond oil; and we must necessarily invest in education if we intend to make any headway. It is not a matter of choice, but imperative.’’
The deputy president of the senate urged privately-owned educational institutions to emulate the Brickhall School in providing high standard, but “pocket-friendly’’ education.
He also urged government at all levels and public-spirited individuals to prioritise support for educational institutions through provision of adequate supervision, infrastructure, grants, donations, and tax rebates.
“A situation where government is only interested in collecting exorbitant taxes from privately-owned educational institutions, leaving them to fend for themselves in terms of access roads, security, water, power, and other social infrastructures is exploitative.
“The development is also unacceptable because it has virtually driven them beyond the reach of the poor.
“Governments should be able to provide subsidised lands and other support in exchange of specific percentage discount for the poor to access privately owned educational institutions,’’ he said.
He commended Mrs. Emodi for consistently exhibiting innate drive for excellence and national development through the provision of quality education.
According to him, Brickhall School has demonstrated that private-owned educational facilities could provide high quality education at affordable costs devoid of exploitation.